Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was quick to attack Theresa May’s plan to penalise pensioners.
Appearing on BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show, he lambasted the cruel Conservative leader’s plan to steal vital winter fuel payments from people who will die of hypothermia without the extra cash to pay for heating.
He said Mrs May was trying to contrive intergenerational rivalry, saying the pensions triple-lock had to be ended because it took cash away from 25-year-olds.
And he explained that Mrs May’s bid to steal houses to pay for social care was a tax on dementia and on those with extreme needs.
Not only that, but he also explained that Labour’s plan to tax people earning more than £80,000 was not arbitrarily chosen – it was intended to ensure that only five per cent of the population would see an increase in taxation.
Here’s what he had to say. ‘V’ is Jeremy Vine; ‘C’ is Mr Corbyn:
V: The Conservatives say that well-off pensioners should lose their winter fuel payments. Do you not agree with that?
C: No I don’t because I think a universal payment makes sure that everybody gets it and, obviously, wealthy pensioners pay tax on their incomes anyway, so it seems to me a principle that we make sure that every household that has older people in it gets the winter fuel allowance.
We think it’s better to have the principle that you have a universal health service, you have universal support for older people, and then those who clearly can afford to pay more tax, pay more tax.
V: Don’t you feel, when that cheque hits the doorstep, that’s a waste of taxpayer money?
C: It would be more expensive, probably… to bring in a means test for it and I think it’s better we deal with these issues through taxation. That seems to me a fairer way of doing things.
By the way, the Conservatives have never said, on the winter fuel allowance, at what point they would say people aren’t eligible. That’s left hanging in the air.
V: The social care issue is arguably the biggest non-Brexit issue of our time. They now have some concrete suggestions which are that you’re going to have to pay your own costs, in a home – or in your own home, until you get to £100,000 left, and then the state takes over. Good idea or not?
C: Very, very bad idea. Social care costs can be enormous, they can be as much as £50,000 a year for somebody to be looked after in a care home. We have a million people who are not getting the social care they need and are often in a desperate situation; we have people unable to leave hospital, often the frail elderly, because they haven’t got a social care package available for them, because their local authority has had its budget cut so much; and we have adults with learning difficulties, or multiple disabilities, or extreme needs, who do not get the support they need, and do you know what happens? Somebody in the family has to give up their job, give up their career, in order to look after them. And it’s nearly always women.
V: But isn’t this policy the answer to that, which is to say, if you have a house, essentially we’re going to take it off the value of your own house?
C: Well, it’s actually a tax on dementia; it’s a tax on people who have got extreme needs, and I think we as a society should extend the principle of the National Health Service – that we want to make sure we actually care for everybody. The government has actually cut £4.5 billion from social care over the past seven years and the money they put back in gets nowhere near meeting the needs of social care budgets across the country.
— Momentum NHS #EL4C (@Momentum_NHS) May 18, 2017
What we’re going to do first off is plug the gaps in the system by urgently putting money straight into the system to ensure that there are the back-ups in hospitals, there aren’t a million people without social care. We will then increase the provision of social care across the whole country and ensure that we don’t have this sort of miserable crisis that so many families are facing at the present time.
And if you start taking it off the value of people’s homes, it doesn’t take very long – if you take an average house price across the whole country of somewhere around £280-300,000 or so – it doesn’t take very long for that to disappear. Somebody with dementia can actually live a very long time and need that support, that care.
V: I thought the starting-point was that the state can’t do it cos the state hasn’t got the money!
C: The state can’t do it all but what we’re saying is that the present system is inadequate and not working. There is a crisis, and that crisis is made worse by the way the government has treated social care over the past seven years.
V: They’re taking away the triple-lock on the state pension, and it becomes a double lock. So it used to be that your pensions would rise by average earnings, inflation or 2.5 per cent, whichever is greatest; 2.5 per cent now comes out of it. Why didn’t you do that yourself?
C: We’re keeping the triple-lock.
V: We’re hearing that pensioners are getting too much out of the system and it’s disadvantaging 25-year-olds.
C: I don’t think we should be setting one generation off against another. I went to Parliament in 1983 and I started a campaign then about the issue of then-standing charges, but also about linking pensions to earnings or prices, whichever went up by the highest – that was in Barbara Castle’s Act in 1975. What the Conservatives are doing is taking away this guarantee. I don’t think you set this debate up by having intergenerational rivalry; we simply say that we think pensioners who’ve made a massive contribution to our society deserve the security of knowing the triple-lock will be in place, and we will keep it in place.
V: Again it’s a policy you’re going to need cash for, and you’ve identified people earning £80,000 a year or more as the place to go for the cash, is that right?
C: We’re saying that 95 per cent of the population will not have any increase in tax, VAT or National Insurance. What we are saying is that we’ll put corporate taxation up to 26 per cent by the end of our first term in office, and that will indeed be still lower than it was in 2010, because there has been a whole process of cutting corporate taxation under the coalition and the Conservative governments and we believe that is the right direction in which to go.
But there is also the question of defending other gains that pensioners have made, such as bus passes and, compensating what’s known as the WASPI women, those who have had completely unfair treatment as the retirement age rose, and we’ll keep it at 66.
If you’re earning at the very top end, I think it is reasonable that you make a slightly larger contribution to our society’s needs. What we’ve said is the majority of the funds we want will come from corporate taxation and will come from dealing with issues of tax evasion and from placing profits in convenient tax regimes where very little tax is paid. We will look at all of those things.
Surely, we have to look at this in the issues of how we treat people. Under the last Labour government, a million pensioners came out of poverty; under the coalition government, 400,000 have gone into poverty because of the cuts in services and the combination of all the other cuts.
V: But why are you putting it at £80,000? What is it about that figure?
C: We’re saying that 95 per cent will not have an increase of any sort… We are not saying what the increase is going to be… except that we will increase the top rate.
V: I thought you said you were putting it up to 45p.
C: Yes, indeed, but I’m not saying how much they’ll have to pay straight away. We’ll put it up during the Parliament.
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